Alleigh Burrows has always been an avid reader of regency romances, but didn’t start writing a novel until she read Julia Quinn’s “Bridgerton” series, whose flawed characters inspired her. It took her five years—while working full time and raising a family—to write her first novel, “Dare to Love,” a romance set in England in the 1800s. That was the easy part. Finding a publisher was a whole new ball game.
In this Q&A, Burrows talks about her experience as a debut historical romance author, what surprised her most during the publishing process, and why she thinks writers should avoid writing in a vacuum.
Q: What is "Dare to Love" about?
A: It’s about Lord Landis, a handsome, heartless rake who treats women as interchangeable playthings. But that hasn't stopped Nivea Horsham from loving him for years. Sadly, she's the plain, plump sister of his best friend and he barely acknowledges her existence. That changes when he accompanies her to her family's country home for her sister's wedding. She discovers his tightly kept secret from his childhood and he slowly learns that love does not have to lead to betrayal.
Q: Is this your first book? How long was the writing and publishing process?
A: This is my first book. I worked on it for about five years, off and on, going to writing conferences, learning my craft. In 2011, I went to the NJ Romance Writer's conference, pitched it to several editors who took a look, but weren't sold on it. I entered the Sheila Contest (Valley Forge Romance Writers), got some great feedback, and polished it some more. At the 2012 NJRW conference, Renee Rocco of Lyrical Press asked for the full manuscript and liked it! While negotiating the contract, Lyrical was acquired by Kensington Publishing Company, and luckily, it agreed to publish my manuscript, as well. Eleven months later, it's finally out.
Q: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
A: I love to read. I'll read anything, but romance novels are my favorite. And I can't remember a time when I didn't write—funny stories for school projects, poems for fun, and finally marketing materials for work. I never considered writing a book until I read Julia Quinn's “Bridgerton” series. I loved that her characters weren't perfect and gorgeous. And I thought I'd like to write a novel like that, about flawed people who were still worthy of love. So I did.
Q: What was your biggest surprise during the publication process?
A: I was surprised to learn that writing was the easy part. Once I finished the novel it took years to get a publisher and then almost an entire year to go from contract to release. I still only have a hazy idea of what goes on “behind the curtain,” but it is all coming together finally.
Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
A: Keep writing. Find a writer's group to share ideas. Get feedback from as many people as possible. You can't write in a vacuum, because the images in your head don't always come across on paper. Know that your first book will probably get stuck in a drawer. You won't find your groove until your second or third book. And that's OK. You'll get there.
To learn more about Alleigh Burrows, go to: http://alleighburrows.com/